A Black entrepreneur is aiming to make banking fair and accessible for communities of color through the creation of an app, CNN reported. Sheena Allen, 29, has launched an online banking platform called CapWay as an avenue to help underserved communities learn more about the importance of financial literacy, the news outlet writes.
Allen—a Mississippi native—says that her personal experiences inspired her to create the platform. Growing up in a small town that only had one bank, she noticed that her loved ones and other people in her community heavily relied on check cashing places, utilized payday loans, and didn’t have bank accounts. Many of these methods resulted in losing money due to interest and other fees associated with cashing checks and borrowing money. Determined to break the cycle, Allen launched CapWay in 2016. Through the app, users can get pre-paid credit cards with lower interest rates. They can also link their other accounts to the app and will receive personalized financial literacy tips based on how they are spending their money.
Allen says her goal is to not only use the app as a way to encourage more people to open bank accounts, but to change their perspective surrounding their spending habits as well. She also wants to break the financial barriers people face involving credit scores and purchasing homes. “In the end, education and understanding money along with giving them the tools to put that education to use will be the shift. You can’t give people one part and not the other and expect to see a big change,” she told CNN.
She plans on taking her financial literacy movement beyond the digital space and wants to partner with local organizations, schools, and financial companies to go into underserved communities and host workshops.
According to the news outlet, Mississippi had the largest unbanked population. However, the problem spans beyond the state. The Center for Financial Services Innovation reported that people from underserved communities spent $173 billion in interest and fees in 2016.